I wanted to take a moment to share with you this book review (put together by Ken O’Neill) on Frank Zane’s latest book Symmetry. And while I am at it, check out who is being featured in Frank’s latest newsletter.
Take a look and let me know what you think!
Frank Zane’s Symmetry Book Review by Ken O’Neill
Frank and I first met in 1976, on the eve of is first Mr. Olympia victory. A young Kyoshi (equivalent to a Zen Master or Roshi) I’d recently met Michael Murphy. Aside from his Esalen Institute, Mike was researching what became his book The Future of the Body. On several occasions Frank flew into San Jose then we drove to San Francisco to meet with Murphy. More significantly, that was the beginning of a long friendship bonded by a transpersonal orientation to life. All of which is to qualify my remarks as tainted with joy over the autobiography Frank has so splendidly crafted. While it’s tempting to say of Frank’s newest book, Symmetry, he’s done it again, that simply cannot be said. Symmetry far outdoes anything he has heretofore published. If that isn’t enough, let it be known that Symmetry takes the reader a quantum leap beyond how absolutely anyone has envisioned the art and science of bodybuilding. In other words, Frank’s new book sets a new standard, one uniquely without peers.
The book is divided into two sections: the first recounts Frank’s career in bodybuilding from age 14 through 70. The accounting is far more than an historical narrative of milestones, titles won, and persons along the way. All those elements fill the narrative, while the deeper story is that of Frank’s growing reflective self-awareness growing over the decades of his life. He teaches us his personal journey from doing the standard kinds of work outs, sets and reps to gaining personal power and personal wisdom regarding how to train his personal uniqueness.
Section One: Frank’s Career in Bodybuilding
Section One is a narrative the kind seldom seen. Other than Bill Pearl, I do not recall a bodybuilder recounting even parts of their life story – the compelling incidences, complete with reflections and insights gained. With Symmetry Frank shares the major incidences of his life as a world class champion, filling us in on events never reported in the popular magazines. Instead of training, travel, and competition reports creating a false sense of a champion’s life, Frank relates the very human side of his journey, humorous incidences, frustrations, as well as some that would bring infuriation to most of us. It’s with those stories that Frank’s setting you up for Section Two — setting you up with such subtlety that there’s no way you can even sense what’s awaiting further down the read. He does offer some insights concerning voluntary control of negative thoughts and feelings, how meditation contributes to his success, all in passing, all woven into the warp and woof of life the way he lives and how those options inform his choices.
Section Two: Practical Guidance
Section Two is more than half the book. Section One has prepared you for the journey of Section Two. Before commenting on Section Two I deem it necessary to qualify my remarks. Some years ago John Balik approached Frank about doing a special feature story on his peaking at age 65. Frank agreed if John would have me write the article. As I understood it then, Frank was interested in finally getting more of his story told than muscle mag journalists seemed capable of understanding, much less do! Appearing in June 2008 entitled as “The Zane ”, for the first time ever a muscle mag told Frank’s story the way he wanted it to be known. Far more than work plans, sets, reps, and weight plus dietary information were presented: Frank’s long regarded bodybuilding as a deliberate, volitional lifestyle choice. Readers learned of how Frank’s bodybuilding lifestyle incorporates resistance training, dietary choices, meditation, light-sound entrainment, nembutsu zammai (samadhi states arising doing the namu amida butsu mantra), and electromagnetic pulse resonance. The article crafted those various training activities as one integrative way of life – as a living organism instead of a collection of organs devoid of an orderly matrix of living. We put our heads together for that article.
Section Two is a veritable handbook of training methods for bodymind development to world class mastery. Notice I used ‘bodymind’ in disrespect to the arbitrary and false division between body versus mind, and in respect to the innate integrity of the lives we were given. Shamans as Louis Claude de Saint-Martin use the terms ‘re-remembering’ and ‘re-integration’ when noting how whole person growth and development can be understood as overcoming being alienated to ourselves, feeling fragmented instead of whole.
Organization of the second half of the book genuinely teaches a transpersonal psychology rooted in transformational disciplines. The key word is disciplines, a plural noun. That extends to presentation of various meditations, again plural. Our cultural tradition has always looked for singularities – for the one true and unvarying teaching and practice. As we’ve imported exotic transformational disciplines, we’ve imposed our standard of singularity by naming them as singulars. Just think of the names: Buddhism, yoga, Hinduism, Daoism, meditation, zen, dgoz-chen, and shin Buddhism. Words such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Daoism are Western fabrications — you can’t translate any of those words into their native languages since that’s not how they know themselves. Likewise, yoga, meditation, dzog-chen, zen and shin Buddhisms are plurals. The Buddhists put it this way: there are 84,000 entrances to becoming Awake. Not one single way. East Indian love of hyperbole stresses the uniqueness of every individual and a healthy multiplicity of methods for waking up. And that’s exactly what Frank brings to the table. Sections from the Gurdjieff work and John White provide excellent maps of the territory where the journey occurs. Frank’s introduction to various kinds of concentration, meditation, mindfulness, and awakening stresses richness of variety and choice for waking up individuals. That’s far from a trivial point: the majority of today’s teaching centers for transpersonal disciplines are branded by a singular identity of method, and, unfortunately, too often branded by guru type leaders. Such branding creates value added merchandise when you consider it’s held out to be exotic, often an import. You won’t find a single word emphasizing brands, special exotics, or singular methods. Instead you’ll find in Frank’s teaching the living spirit of traditional Asian wisdom traditions upholding variety and the uniqueness of each individual. Since I share in that outlook, imagine how delighted I am with this book in which Frank shares not only specifics he’s done, but presents an underlying thread of principles informing his journey of wisdom.
Close to 20 years ago, after several intense years of light-sound entrainment work with his Mind-Muscle Machine, Frank found himself spontaneously writing verse. And becoming more concentrated with guitar, harmonica, and making/playing flutes. That resulted in publication of his Frank Zane’s Secret Training Diaries, a 241 page book written entirely in verse. An ignored point running ramped in Asian liberation traditions but rarely, if ever, understood in the doctrine obsessed West is this: there’s a significant point in waking up where understanding that communication is metaphor occurs in the heart. When that happens, generally creative imagination becomes far more usual consciousness and out of that artistic expression spontaneouly arises. The whole of Symmetry is that kind of writing – nothing forced and strained in explanation, instead a flowing, natural conversation with the reader that might just change their life for the better.
In learning of your innate wholeness to restore primordial sanity, Frank introduces a rich variety of meditative techniques. More importantly that beautiful instruction in vipassana, nembutsu zammai, shikan taza, and the progressive stages of meditative growth of skill and attainment, he does something far, far basic: he puts them in a context rendering them gainfully employed. Too often meditation is taught in a fragmented manner, as if it were something in and of itself rather than a powerful tool for waking up the dormant human in each of us.
The art and science of Symmetry is a practical guide book, a compass for the wise, for gaining fullest expression of the genomic wisdom at the center of your life. And most joyful of all, Symmetry properly understood is the beginning of and introduction to what might be called Bodybuilding 2.0!
For more information about Frank’s new book symmetry, please take a look at Frank Zane’s website here: http://www.frankzane.com/books/symmetry.html
Yours for a Lean Body,
Your Lean Body Coach™
About the Author
One of the world’s most well-known and celebrated bodybuilding legends, Lee Labrada holds 22 professional bodybuilding titles, including the IFBB Mr. Universe. He is one of few pro bodybuilders in history to consistently place in the top four at the Mr. Olympia competition (the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding) for seven consecutive years—a feat he shares with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He has appeared on the covers of more than 100 bodybuilding and fitness magazines and has been featured on CNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and ESPN as a fitness and nutrition expert.
Lee was also inducted into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, is an Internationally known best selling fitness authos and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. For more about Lee please visit his page here: Lee Labrada’s page.